Wednesday, August 1, 2007

pivotal moment

I have had 3 pivotal moments so far on my atheist life path. The first was about 12 years ago, the second about 4 months ago, the third just today.

First my religious background- I was raised in the Lutheran Church: church every Sunday, baptized as a baby, first communion, confirmation, Sunday School during the school year and 1 week of Bible School during the summer. During junior high (approx. age 12) I had taken to reading my bible every night before bed and my biggest wish was to get a leather-bound bible with my name engraved on it.

Born Again Take 1- When I was approximately 13, I went to Bible Camp (nothing like Jesus Camp) where I was told by a counselor, while holding his hands 2 feet apart, that he saw me on his left hand and the Lord on his right hand. Then he brought them together and said that this is where I should be. So we met 15 minutes before curfew up in the chapel and he had one of those Chick tracts with him. I was so flattered that he was spending time with just me, I mean he was a hunky college guy after all, what 13 year old nerd wouldn't be thrilled??? So, we read through the little blue pamphlet and got to the prayer part... so I did it. I kept waiting for the fireworks or the divine revelation or something and nothing happened. He kept looking at me expectantly so I said something appropriate....But I was completely horrified that nothing had changed.

Born Again Take 2- The second time was when I was roughly 16 and at a Youth for Christ weekend retreat. I got to meet one of the celebrity singers there and he offered to pray with me. So, roughly the same thing happened, got together really late just him and me, read the tract, said the prayer, nothing happened...again.... What was the matter with me?

My first pivotol moment was when I was 22. I had struggled off and on with my faith up until that point, still wanting to believe, but really just going through the motions. I really thought there was something wrong with me. Dennis Miller described it best, "I'm genetically incapable of having a charismatic experience."

It was after reading the Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, which details a highly plausible theory on how and why gods came about, that I reluctantly come to the conclusion that there just wasn't a god. However, the guilt remained behind. I felt bad that I no longer believed in god. I also was furious that the churches were perpetuating such a lie.

My second pivotol moment came after 10 years of disbelief, about 4 months ago, I stumbled across EvilBible.com. Strangely enough, reading through this website eradicated all guilt that I had for not believing.

Now, not only DON'T I believe in god, I wouldn't WANT the christian god to exist. Evil. Murderous. Vindicitive. Petty.

How I got through Sunday School without realizing that any being capable of murdering the first born of an entire nation on a WHIM was an evil sociopath/psychopath I'll never know. You just weren't supposed to question god.

The third pivotol moment happened about 20 minutes ago while I was reading up on and researching morality. I have finally realized why my two attempts at becoming born-again did not take.

This is the passage I was reading from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith who is quoting C.S. Lewis in this passage:

Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed...

When coupled with this passage from the previous page:
A man motivated by guilt, however, is a man with a broken spirit; he will obey the rules without question. A guilt-ridden man is the perfect subject for religious morality.

I never felt it. I never truly believed I was a bad person. Never did they convince me that I was a sinner from birth, that I was incapable of being a good person on my own, that I deserve to be burned in hell for all eternity.

After all these years I finally get it.

I cannot become a born again christian because I do not believe in original sin. I do not beleive that I am a bad person without religion. I do not believe anyone deserves an eternity in torment.

My spirit is unbroken.

My spirit is unbroken!!!!

13 comments:

Poodles Rule said...

And truly, why would anyone want a god that assumes you are bad in order to be welcome in their fold?

Fiery said...

I'm reminded of Pain and Panic in Disney's Hercules...

"We are not worthy. We're worms. Lowly worms."

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Go Fiery! I never believed in the evil from birth stuff either, but the Lutheran pasters didn't seem to harp on that as much as my Catholic friends got from their priests. (Or maybe it was the synod...LCA was pretty liberal.)

janice said...

I must applaud you FE for the in-depth introspection you've undertaken and have shared with us today.

Now, the following analogy may sound stupid, but I believe you'll understand it the context in which it was written. Bare with me here.

I liken it to a child growing up being told to eat beets, they're good for you but not really knowing why they're good for you.

You have them at least once a week and at times they're complimenting to the meal. As you grow older you realize the value these "beets" were supposed to bring to you, don't.

As you journey in to adulthood, you learn the negative aspects of the "beets" have had in your life and choose not to consume them, but, you're not calling for a nationwide ban on "beets."

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Janice,

Your losing me a bit with the beets analogy, I understand what you are saying but don't quite get the conection with Fiery's story?

geetha said...

hi fiery
i am from india. i have been an atheist since i was 15 years ie., for the last 22 years. still it is only now that i have the courage to openly profess atheism. earlier only my friends knew but know i am a very vocal atheist. and it feels great - totally free. chanced on ur blog and i really liked it. will stop by often
geetha

Poodles Rule said...

I suppose if the beets were poisonous and killed millions of people over the generations there might be some who call for a beet ban.

janice said...

I'm sorry Sean, I read it after I posted it and it wasn't as clear on the screen as it was in my head.

It's just that I see FE not getting the advantages she was told the "beets" would add to her life. After many years of eating the "beets" she still got a cold, had the chicken pox or acne.

As for complimenting the meal, Easter and Christmas come to mind. FE may have enjoyed the "beets" during those two occasions.

The "beets" don't add value to her life like she was told they would.

PS
I knew after I hit "publish your comment" it was a bad anaolgy.

Fiery said...

Geetha!

A very warm welcome to my blog! It is wonderful to see you here and I look forward to seeing you comment again!

You have an amaingly different experience with religion from anyone else that has commented on my blog and the new perspective will be a delightful addition.

:-D I'm glad you found us!

Fiery said...

Janice,

If christianity were as innocuos as beats, no one would care enough to complain. I for one love beat pickles and have been known to enjoy boiled beats with butter and a bit of salt.

The harm that has been done in the name of beats....(sorry got lost in the analogy)...in christianity (both to the individual, historically, even politically) far outweighs the joy of christmas carols or the sweetness of a baby in a manger.

More on this in my next post on morality.

Ginny said...

I've always known beets were bad lol ;)

janice said...

Sorry everyone, the analogy should have stayed in my head.

I'm just trying to understand how FE got to this point. FE admits to the joy she feels during Christian holidays while denying the existence of God.

I'm just here trying to see your side of the issue. I'm in no way trying to offend anyone or argue for my belief. I'm just trying to gain some insight.

Of all the atheist blogs I've visited I've never been attacked on this site, and I hope I can continue to ask questions without being ridiculed.

Fiery said...

Janice,

I don't actually think there is anything ultimately wrong with your beat analogy. It was a bit obscure at first, needing the reference you just provided about it being about my delight in christmas vs. my lack of belief in god.

This deserves a post of its own....